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FNC members 'frustrated by absence of auditor'

FNC members say they are frustrated at what they regard as a lack of co-operation by the state auditor.

ABU DHABI // FNC members say they are frustrated at what they regard as a lack of co-operation by the state auditor.

Before Tuesday's session, the council's finance committee met six times to discuss the report by the State Audit Institute.

Each time it invited officials from the office to discuss their findings with representatives from the ministries the report accused of spending breaches.

But as the first meeting was about to start, the committee received an email saying the auditor would not attend.

This meant the committee had only the report to go on, giving the various ministry officials the chance to downplay and deny the violations unchallenged.

In several cases, officials claimed that problems had already been resolved to the audit office's satisfaction.

"When we asked the entities they said they fixed this with the audit institute," said Mohammed Al Raqbani (Fujairah).

"They showed us the letters that the audit institute agreed to it, so we were surprised why it was written in the report."

But when the committee later met Mohammed Al Zaabi, assistant under secretary of the audit institute, he insisted that was not the case.

"There are clear contradictions between the audit institute and those ministries and other entities," the committee's report reads.

"The ministries said they clarified these points to the audit institute, but the audit institute denied this."

Members said that if the auditor had been there from the start the differences could have been resolved.

They also said the auditor's absence left the committee unsure whether it should rely on the numbers from the Ministry of Finance or the State Audit Institute.

When Dr Hareb Al Amimi, head of the audit institute, was asked on Tuesday why he did not come, he said the institute worked independently and that its main responsibility was to prepare the reports.

Some members said that response was vague and not a valid reason to skip the meetings.

"We got no answer as to why they did not attend," Mr Al Raqbani said. "Their response was, 'whatever we have we sent, what else do you want?'

"We left with a lot of questions and only vague answers. A lot of questions are still not answered."

osalem@thenational.ae

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